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in law, and that mob is as much a tyrant as if it were one person. It is all
the more disgusting because there is nothing more awful than the
monster which pretends to the appearance and name of the people. Nor
is it right “ since according to law the property of madmen is under the
control of their relatives, because they no longer *µ
[four leaves missing]
[]  © ° ©: * :the same things9 can be said :about aristocracy9
as were said about monarchy, to show why it is a commonwealth and a
˜˜concern of the people.™™
µ ©µ : Even more so. Kings have the appearance of masters,
because they are single individuals; but nothing can be more fortunate
than the commonwealth in which a number of good people are in control.
Even so, I prefer monarchy to a free people; that is the third form that
still remains to be examined, the worst commonwealth.

See .“ above.
µ

µ·
It is impossible to translate the phrase res populi (rendered throughout as ˜˜concern of the
people™™) adequately in sects. “µ, as C. is playing on the meaning of res as property,
arguing in part that in an illegitimate form of government (tyranny etc.) the people are
deprived of their ownership of the physical possessions of the state as well as of
participation in government and civic a¬airs.
µ
Again, C. plays on the concept of res publica as the property of the people, here referring to
the laws concerning administration of the property of lunatics.


·
Book 

[·]  ©° ©: I recognize your characteristic dislike of popular govern-
ment, Spurius, and even though it can be tolerated more easily than you
usually tolerate it, still I agree that it is the least admirable of these three
forms. But I don™t agree that optimates are preferable to a just king: if it is
wisdom that is wanted to rule the commonwealth, then what di¬erence
does it make whether it is found in one person or in many?µ But in such
an argument we deceive ourselves. When we hear the name ˜˜the best
people,™™° nothing can possibly seem preferable: what can be imagined
that is better than ˜˜the best™™? But when someone mentions a king, unjust
kings come to mind automatically. But we are not talking now about
unjust kings when we examine the monarchic form of commonwealth
itself. So think of Romulus or Pompilius or King Tullius, and then
perhaps you won™t feel so unhappy about that form of commonwealth.
[] µ ©µ: What praise do you have left to o¬er for the demo-
cratic commonwealth?
 ©°©: Well, Spurius, we were recently together in Rhodes.± Do you
think that the Rhodians have no commonwealth?
µ © µ : I think that they have one, and one not at all to be
condemned.
 ©°©: You are right. But if you remember, all the people were at one
time plebeians, at another, senators, and they had an alternation of the
months in which they would in turn play the role of the people or the
senate. In either part they received a fee, and the same people, in the
theater and in the senate house, were judges of capital crimes and all
other o¬enses. :The senate9 had as much power and importance as
the multitude *


Uncertain location in Book 
[°c] The bravest men never . . . bravery, energy, and endurance
[ + Nonius ±µ.±]
[ Inc. ] They put their spirit at risk . . . they see what they think they
are going to do. [ + Nonius .·]
[ Inc. ] The Phoenicians were the ¬rst, through their trading and
A variation of Laelius™ question to Scipio at ±.±.
µ

°
Optimates; see ˜˜Text and Translation™™ above.
During Scipio™s embassy to the east, probably in ±°“±. The Rhodian constitution
±

described here is not otherwise known.

The meaning is uncertain, and there is a gap in the text. It perhaps belongs in Laelius™

speech. The text of this fragment is corrupt.


··
On the Commonwealth

merchandise, to import into Greece greed and grandiosity and insatiable
desire for all things. [ + Nonius ±.±±]


Doubtful fragment
[] Lactantius, On the Workmanship of God .±“± (excerpted): Al-
though humans are born weak and frail, still they are safe from all mute
creatures, and all those things which are born with greater strength, even
if they are capable of enduring the forces of nature, cannot be safe from
humans. (±·) Thus reason gives more to the human than nature does to
mute creatures, since in their case neither great strength nor strong
bodies can stop them from being destroyed by us or subjected to our
power. (±) Plato (I suppose to refute these ungrateful people) thanked
nature for having been born human.
The argument of this passage is compatible with that of the preface to Book , but there is


no clear evidence that it is taken from C.




·
Book 

[±a] Lactantius, On the Workmanship of God ±.±±“±: Since reference has
been made to the body and the mind, I will try to explain the rationale of
each within the limited understanding of my feeble intelligence. I think it
particularly important to take up this task, because Marcus Cicero, a man
of outstanding talent, tried to do this in the fourth book of On the
Commonwealth but compressed a vast amount of material within a narrow
compass and only touched lightly on the main points. Indeed, he removes
any excuse for not having dealt with the topic thoroughly by saying himself
˜˜that he had lacked neither the will nor the e¬ort™™: in the ¬rst book of
On the Laws, when he was equally cursory on the same topic, he says: ˜˜As
far as I am concerned, Scipio dealt adequately with this subject in the book
which you have read™™ [±.·]. Even so, he tried to give a fuller treatment of
the same subject in the second book of On the Nature of the Gods.±
[±b] And the mind itself, which foresees the future, also remembers
what is past. [ + Nonius µ°°.]
[±e] . . . and ¬nally that by its regular interposition it also creates the
shade of night, something that is useful not only for the reckoning of
days but for rest from toil. [ + Nonius .±]
[±f] And since in the autumn the earth has opened for the sowing of
crops, in the winter has loosened for preparing them, and in the ripe-
ness of summer has softened some and parched others . . .  [ + Nonius
.°]
[]   ©°©: * goodwill; how ¬tting is the orderly distribution into
The introductory argument of Book  is close to that of On the Nature of the Gods .±“µ,
±

both on the topic of body and mind and on nature™s gifts to humans.

The text of this fragment is somewhat uncertain (a season is missing), but the sense is clear.


·
On the Commonwealth

ages and classes and the cavalry. This last includes the votes of the sen-
ate, although too many people now foolishly want this useful custom to
be eliminated in seeking a new form of dole through a bill on returning
their horses.
[a] Consider furthermore how wisely all the rest has been foreseen
in order to promote the citizens™ shared association in a happy and hon-
orable way of life. That is, indeed, the ¬rst cause of the creation of so-
ciety, and it ought to be accomplished on the authority of the
commonwealth in part through institutions and in part through laws.µ
In the ¬rst place, there is the childhood education of free citizens. The
Greeks have employed a great deal of futile e¬ort in this, and our friend
Polybius blames our customs for negligence in this alone, that they had
no desire to ordain a de¬nite form of childhood education, established
by law, publicly de¬ned, or uniform. For *
[two or four leaves missing]
[inc. µ]: Fannius had a di¬cult task in giving a eulogy for a boy: one has
to praise expectations rather than accomplishments. [Servius on Virgil,
Aeneid .·µ]·
[b] Servius on Virgil, Aeneid µ.µ: . . . according to Cicero, who says that
it was customary to give guardians to those setting out on military
service, to direct them in their ¬rst year.
[c] not only as at Sparta, where boys learn to snatch and steal [ + Nonius
°.±]
[d] Servius on Virgil, Aeneid ±°.µ: It is reported that the Cretans were
unbridled as far as the love of boys was concerned, and this custom spread to
the Spartans and to all Greece, to such an extent that Cicero in his book On


The centuriate (Servian) constitution divided voters into property classes and age groups;
˜˜cavalry™™ refers to the ± centuries of the knights. The reference to the bill on returning
horses (translated very literally here) must mean a measure to remove senators from the
centuries of the knights; it is usually thought to be a measure of Gaius Gracchus, Tiberius™
younger brother, connected with his later judicial law of ± which replaced senators with
knights in criminal courts. What Scipio says, perhaps tendentiously, is that by depriving
senators of the knights™ publicly supported horses, the bill would reduce the tax on widows
and orphans that paid for them; see . above for this practice.

C. here modi¬es the reason for the initial organization of society (±. above) in an
Aristotelian direction; cf. Politics ±.± ±µb·“°.
µ
The opposition between institutions (customary behavior) and laws (statute) is signi¬cant
in Book : the former are, in C.™s view, greatly preferable to the latter.

C. rejects as futile the attempts of Greek philosophers (not least Plato) to prescribe a form
of education that will produce good citizens. Where Polybius said this is uncertain.
·
The location of this fragment is very uncertain; it is placed here (following Buchner)¨
because it concerns children.


°
Book 

the Commonwealth says that it was a source of disgrace to young men if
they did not have lovers.
[]  © °© : * for a grown man to appear naked. The foundations of the
sense of shame are indeed deeply set. The athletic exercises of young
men in the gymnasia are really idiotic; the military exercises of the
ephebes are trivial; and their gropings and love a¬airs are abandoned and
free. I will set aside the people of Elis and of Thebes, where the amatory
passions of free men are given complete license. Even the Spartans, in
permitting everything except penetration in amatory relationships with
young men, use a very slender barrier to prohibit this one exception: they
allow them to embrace and to sleep together provided that they are
separated by a cloak.
¬ ¬ © µ: I understand very well, Scipio, that in speaking of the Greek
customs of which you disapprove you prefer to strive with the greatest
nations rather than with your beloved Plato, whom you do not even
mention, especially since *
[nothing more of Book  survives in the manuscript]
[µb] And our beloved Plato goes even further than Lycurgus: he ordains
that everything should be held in common so that no citizen is capable of
saying of anything that it is his very own. [ + Nonius .±±]
[µc] I :will treat Plato9 in the same way as he treats Homer: he sends
him out of the city which he invented for himself, decked in garlands and
covered in perfumes. [ + Nonius °.]±°

The concept of uerecundia, ˜˜sense of shame,™™ is central to C.™s account of the mechanisms
of morality; for a de¬nition see µ. below with note.
Compare also [µa] Lactantius, Epitome ().±“µ: His [sc. Socrates™] pupil Plato, whom


Cicero calls a god among philosophers, who alone of all philosophers came close to the truth “ still,
since he had no knowledge of God, made in many respects such mistakes that no one ever
wandered further from the truth; above all, because in his Republic he wanted everything to be
held in common by all people. That is tolerable as far as property is concerned, even if it is unjust:
the fact that because of his hard work one person has more than another ought not to harm him,
nor should someone be helped if by his own fault he has less. But, as I say, this is in some ways
tolerable. But are wives and children also to be held in common? Is there to be no recognition of
blood relationships, no de¬nite line of descent, no families or relationships or attachments, but
everything is to be mixed and disordered as in ¬‚ocks of animals? Is there to be no continence
among men, no chasteness among women? What marital love can there be for either, among
whom there is no sure and de¬nite relationship? Who will be dutiful towards a father if he does not
know who his father is? Who will love a son who he thinks is someone else™s? He has even opened
the senate house to women, he has allowed them military service and public o¬ce and commands.
How great will be the unhappiness of that state in which women take over the functions of men! It
is unlikely that this passage is based on C. but it is probably parallel in some respects to C.™s
argument here.
Cf. Republic .a. This fragment is sometimes connected to the discussion of drama, but
±°

it clearly belongs with the discussion of Plato.


±
On the Commonwealth

[c] Nor indeed should some o¬cial be put in charge of women, of the
type that is regularly instituted among the Greeks.±± There should,
however, be a censor to teach men how to supervise their wives. [Nonius
.±]
[±g] in providing shepherds for ¬‚ocks.± [ + Nonius ±µ.±]
[d] So great an e¬ect does education in the sense of shame± have: all
women refrain from alcohol. [ + Nonius µ.±°]
[e] And the relatives of any women of bad reputation refused to o¬er her
a kiss. [ + Nonius °.]
[f] Therefore impudence (petulantia) is derived from asking (petendo),
and lewdness (procacitas) was named from seeking (procando), that is
from demanding.± [ + Nonius .±·, ±]
[a] The censor™s judgment brings no disgrace to the condemned man
other than embarrassment. And therefore, since that entire procedure is
entirely involved with someone™s good name, the punishment is called
ignominia.±µ [ + Nonius .µ]
[b] The state is said at ¬rst to have shuddered at their± severity.
[ + Nonius .]
[·f] Augustine, Epist. ±.: Take a brief look at that book On the
Commonwealth . . . Look at it, I ask you, and observe the great praise
bestowed there on frugality and self-control, on faith in the marital bond,
on chaste, honorable, and upright character.±·
[·c] Good faith (¬des) seems to me to have its name because what is said
happens (¬t). [ + Nonius .±±]
[·d] In a citizen of rank and nobility, ¬‚attery, display, and ambition are a
sign± of frivolity. [ + Nonius ±.]
[·b] Cicero, On Duties .°: I am sparing in my criticism of theaters,
porticoes, and new temples on Pompey™s account; but the most learned men do
not approve of them, including Panaetius himself, whom I have followed (but
not translated) to a great extent in this work, and Demetrius of Phaleron, who
criticizes Pericles, the ¬rst man of Greece, because he poured so much money

The gunaikonomos; cf. Aristotle, Politics .±µ ±°°a“. After a digression on Plato, Scipio
±±

turns from the education of children to the supervision of women.
±
Guardianship of women is being compared to shepherds™ supervision of sheep; the next
fragment shows that the comparison is rejected.
Verecundia; for its importance cf. µ. below. The abstemiousness of Roman women is also
±

found in Polybius .±±a.. ±
These terms are the opposite of uerecundia.
±µ ±
Ignominia is derived from nomen, ˜˜name.™™ The censors.
The section omitted here is printed as Book ±, fr. ±.
±·

±
The text is corrupt, but the meaning is clear.



Book 

into the famous Propylaea. But there is a careful discussion of all this sort of
thing in the books which I wrote on the commonwealth.
[·a] I am unwilling that the same people should be the ruler of the world
and its customs collector. And I think that the best source of revenue
both for private families and for the commonwealth is frugality.
[ + Nonius .±µ]
[a] Augustine, City of God .±: Cicero makes this exclamation in vain, in
speaking about poets: ˜˜When they receive the shouts and approval of the
people as if of some great and wise teacher, what darkness they cover the
people with, what fears they import, what desires they in¬‚ame!™™±
[±°] Augustine, City of God .±: Just as Scipio also says in Cicero™s book:
˜˜Since they considered acting and the theater as a whole to be disgrace-
ful, they wanted that type of person not only to lack the honors of other
citizens but even to be deprived of citizenship through censorial punish-
ment.™™°
Augustine, Epist. ±.: You should read and consider the wise argument in
the same book, that the writing and performance of comedies could not in
any way have been accepted if the people accepting them were not of the
same character.±
[±±] Augustine, City of God .: Cicero gives evidence about the opinions of
the early Romans on this subject in his book On the Commonwealth, where
Scipio argues as follows: ˜˜If customary behavior did not permit it, com-
edies could never have gained the audience™s approval for their dis-
gracefulness.™™ And in fact the earlier Greeks maintained a certain consist-
ency in their views: in their country, it was legally permitted for comedy to say
whatever it wanted about anyone by name. And so, just as Africanus says in
the same book:
˜˜Whom did it not taint, or rather whom did it not ravage? Whom did
it spare? Granted that it attacked evil popular politicians who caused
discord in the commonwealth “ Cleon, Cleophon, Hyperbolus. Let us
endure that,™™ he says, ˜˜even though it is better for such citizens to be
rebuked by the censor rather than by a poet. But it was no more proper
for Pericles, at a time when he had been in charge of his country in peace
and war with the highest authority for many years, to be attacked in
poetry performed on the stage, than it would be if our own Plautus or

±
C. is almost certainly speaking of Greek dramatists (following Plato), not Roman.
°
˜˜They™™ is ˜˜our ancestors™™: here C. speaks of the Roman theater.
±
Not in Ziegler. Augustine™s paraphrase in this letter to Nectarius is closely related to the
next quotation.



On the Commonwealth

Naevius had wanted to speak ill of Publius or Gnaeus Scipio, or Caecilius
to do so of Marcus Cato.™™
[±] And a little later, he says: ˜˜Our own Twelve Tables, by contrast,
although they established capital punishments for very few o¬enses,
included among them this: if anyone should sing o¬ensively or should
compose a poem which brought disgrace or o¬ense to someone else.
And they were quite right: we ought to have our lives set out for the
judgments of magistrates or formal court proceedings, not for the wits of
poets; nor should we hear an insult except under the condition that we
can answer and defend ourselves at law.™™
I thought that I ought to give this verbatim selection from the fourth book of
Cicero™s On the Commonwealth, abridging or slightly altering some parts for
ease of understanding. It is highly relevant to the subject that I am trying to
explain, if I can. He then says some more, and ends this discussion in such a
way as to show that the early Romans were displeased if a living man was
either praised or criticized on the stage.
[±b] Augustine, City of God .±±: It is relevant to this consistency that they
even thought the stage performers of these plays worthy of no small civic
honor, if in fact, as is reported in the same book On the Commonwealth,
Aeschines the Athenian, a very eloquent man, after having performed in
tragedies as a young man, entered public life; and the Athenians frequently
sent Aristodemus, who was also a tragic actor, as an ambassador to Philip
concerning the greatest a¬airs of war and peace.
[±a] Donatus, Excerpts on Comedy .±·: Cicero says that comedy is the
imitation of life, the mirror of customary behavior, the image of truth.
[±] Aristides Quintilianus On Music ©© pp. “·± Meibom: Not every
pleasure is blameworthy, nor is that the goal of music: its capacity to attract
the soul is accidental, while its goal is assistance towards virtue. That was not
seen by many people, including the man in Cicero™s books on politics who
speaks against music. I would not say that Cicero himself said such things:
how could someone assert that he slandered music and considered it low, the
branch of learning that distinguishes the virtues and vices of harmonies and
rhythms “ the same man who was so struck by the mime Roscius, who was

This passage is strong evidence that C. did not know the traditional story of Naevius™
slander of the Metelli and subsequent imprisonment.
Twelve Tables ©©©, ± Crawford. The law in question probably concerned both magical


incantations and defamation.

This fragment is not explicitly ascribed to On the Commonwealth, but its emphasis on the
relationship between consuetudo, ˜˜customary behavior,™™ and drama corresponds to the
argument here.


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